By Cosmos Eubany
The California Lawyers Association (“CLA”) held its Second Annual Legislative Day in Sacramento on March 4, 2020. It was a well-attended event and included CLA leadership, Executive Committee Members of the various sections of the CLA, members of the bar, and various individuals representing different organizations. The event began with presentations by members of the legislature including Senator Bill Monning, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Senator Tom Umberg, and Assemblymember James Gallagher. Cory Jasperson, director of governmental affairs for the California Judicial Council, also addressed attendees. The speakers discussed legislative priorities and commented on recently passed legislation. The event culminated with a keynote speech from Assemblymember Mark Stone and two Legislator of the Year Awards presented to Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assembly-member David Chiu.
Among the notable discussions, Cory Jasperson gave an illuminating presentation on the allocation of funds to the courts with a portion earmarked to the 58 trial courts and a portion earmarked to target historically underfunded courts in California (a process known as equalization). This will be welcome news for places like the Inland Empire that have underfunded courts.
Senator Bill Monning gave a riveting presentation on homelessness, one of Governor Newsome’s legislative priority items for the year. He noted a particular school district where thirty percent (30%) of the students are considered homeless because they either live in cars, garages, or move from place to place sleeping on the couches of family members. He noted further, a good way to fight homelessness is to target families before they are homeless, including among other things, creating programs to help struggling families pay rent. This, he posits, would be more cost effective overall because it is cheaper to save a family on the precipice of homelessness than it is to bring a family out of homelessness once it has gone over the abyss. He notes that there will be legislation in this area in the coming year.
Senator Monning also commented on the controversial California Assembly Bill 5, which codified the California Supreme Court ruling on independent contractors in the case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. He acknowledged that there are bills being presented that will exempt various fields. Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan addressed the issue of recidivism and emphasized the need to collect more data on the issue.
At this time, it is unclear how Covid-19 will affect the legislative priorities for the year; however, the one thing that is clear is that legislators want the bar to remain engaged in the legislative process and to offer guidance on issues based on members’ areas of expertise. Legislative Day presented a unique opportunity for members of the bar to build relationships with legislators. The Real Property Law Section welcomes this opportunity and will attend future Legislative Day events with the CLA in the hope of cultivating and strengthening these relationships.